Since mid-December the West has been fairly quiet while the East and Midwest have been getting the most snow. The western storm track is running northwest to southeast. Utah and Colorado remain the best regions in the West going into the new year. The Pacific Northwest and the Tetons have most terrain open, while California remains well below average. Western Canada has had some recent snow, but it's going to take awhile to recover from the early season drought.
Only a few areas post season-to-date snowfall on their websites. At the end of the regional sections, I list selected Ski Central month-to-date snow totals for other resorts, making educated guesses as to which resorts have supplied complete data for the month. The more complete RSN snow totals I used last year are not available so far.
California: Season snowfall: 68" Kirkwood (48% of normal), 98" upper and 36" lower Squaw, 59" Mammoth (54
% of normal). With no new snow since mid-December north Tahoe areas such as Alpine Meadows and Sugar Bowl still have the deepest natural snow bases of about 4 feet and are about 75% open. Most intermediate runs in the Sierra are open with packed powder, but advanced terrain is still limited. Heavenly's extensive snowmaking reached base areas in both states by Christmas. After holiday skier traffic on a thinner base than 2 years ago (generally no more than 3 feet), the Sierra should be avoided until the next big storm. Southern California areas are in limited operation on snowmaking and Arizona has a 18-46 inch natural base after a storm last weekend. See Current California Ski Conditions for more details on Southern California and Mammoth.
Ski Central December Snow: Alpine Meadows 42, Northstar 28, Heavenly 14.
Pacific Northwest: Holiday skiing is good at the 2 major destinations despite the below average start. Whistler/Blackcomb is in full operation on a 57-inch base, an impressive recovery from the dry November despite a few thin or icy areas. Mt. Bachelor's base is 54-61 inches with the Summit now since Christmas. Washington base depths (except Mt. Baker's 5-6 feet) are now 3-4 feet, which is marginal for advanced terrain in this region. Surface conditions are reported difficult at lower elevations with no new snow during the holidays.
Ski Central December Snow: Whistler 42 (likely incomplete), Baker 59, Stevens 47, Crystal 49, Hood Meadows 50.
Canadian Rockies and Interior B.C.: Sun Peaks has the higher proportion of terrain open on 39 inches. Fernie, Sunshine, Big White, and Silver Star are around half open on bases up to 3 feet. Most other areas are even more restricted. Locals report the worst Christmas in over 20 years at Fernie. While the high snow areas may recover in January and February, low snowfall areas should probably be avoided all season as in 1993 and 1998. Just a few inches new snow fell this week.
Ski Central December Snow: Lake Louise 26, Silver Star 34.
U. S. Northern Rockies: In early October Big Sky got a freak dump of over 3 feet and opened some intermediate runs on weekends, increasing to daily operation on 900 acres on Nov. 11. Big Sky's base is now 42-58 inches and it is 70% open, but more snow will be needed to open Lone Peak's expert terrain. Jackson has had 134 inches snowfall so far this season (99% of normal), and opened the tram Dec. 23. Grand Targhee is in full operation on a 39-73 inch base, thus preserving its 100% holiday track record. Schweitzer's base is 40-46 inches now, but Big Mountain's is only 2 feet. Sun Valley has received 65 inches this season, 97% of normal. Most areas got a few inches this week.
Ski Central December Snow: Big Mountain 37, Big Sky 35, Targhee 50.
Utah: Alta has received 156 inches since Nov. 1 (90% of normal) after the 65 inch head start in October. Cottonwood areas base depths are 5-6 feet. Brian Head in southern Utah is in full operation on 49 inches. Snow Basin, Park City and The Canyons are fully open, but I have heard that base depths are sometimes less that the reported 5 feet. Nonetheless Utah has the best ski conditions so far this season despite no new snow during the holiday week.
Ski Central December Snow: Brighton 92, Park City 83, Brian Head 25.
Northern and Central Colorado: Above average conditions (next best region to Utah) with continuing new snow, YTD totals: Breckenridge 99" (106% of normal), Vail 134" (108% of normal), Winter Park 153" (123% of normal), Steamboat 153" (119% of normal). Loveland and Summit County areas are 70-90% open, Steamboat 100% and Vail 92%. Only the steepest, most exposed terrain such as Winter Park's Vasquez Cirque and Copper Bowl remain closed. Conditions are much better than the past 3 New Years, but not as good as 95-96 or 96-97.
Ski Central December Snow: Copper 64, Keystone 48, Loveland 76.
Southern and Western Colorado: Wolf Creek's base depth is 62-72 inches and it has been in full operation since early November. Elsewhere in western Colorado the base averages 3 feet, with now excellent intermediate conditions but advanced terrain such as Snowmass' Hanging Valley and Crested Butte's North Face usually requires at least a 4-foot base. These sectors were partially opened for the holiday week. New Mexico areas were refreshed with new snow over Christmas and have 3-4 foot bases with nearly all intermediate terrain open plus a few advanced runs. Despite a strong start, this region has little snow the past 2 weeks and is now only slightly above average.
Ski Central December Snow: Aspen 28, Crested Butte 55, Telluride 27, Durango 42, Taos 30.
Northeast: Warm weather knocked out the first snowmaking attempts by November 15. Since then snowmaking cranked up for a week and Killington, Okemo, Sunday River and Hunter Mt. were about 30% open for Thanksgiving. December snowfall has been near-record. Base depths do not reflect this, due to the one weekend (Dec. 16-17) of torrential rain. With the recent holiday dump of up to 2 feet, nearly all areas are close to full operation. As my report is an overview, I strongly recommend checking Vermont No-Bull Ski Report or New England Ski Guide's Weekend Forecast for up to date information in this region, where both weather and surface conditions can change so rapidly.
Ski Central December Snow: Mont-Sainte-Anne 46, Tremblant 31, Sugarloaf 64, Jay 95, Stowe 89, Sugarbush 72, Stratton 49, Snowshoe, WV 34.
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